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Mansions of Madness: Second Edition» Forums » General

Subject: Played 1st Scenario - Insanity Unbalanced? rss

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Sam Bookler
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We played with 4 players. 2 of the players ended up going insane right toward the end of the scenario. When we discussed at the end of the game, there seemed to be virtually no way for them to satisfy their insanity conditions and win in the 11th hour. Even if they got them much earlier, it would have been difficult.

It left a bad taste in one player's mouth, who may or may not play again. She felt it was too random in terms of working as a team the whole game, then getting an impossible-to-fulfill insanity card that causes her to lose. She especially felt this way because she ended up drawing 3 horror to go insane off of a particular bad roll to negate.

Have others experienced this or did we just get unlucky in what they drew? Is a potential variant to always have the insane players win with the rest, but force them to spend their actions pursuing whatever insane agenda they have, rather than continue to cooperate normally?
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Jason Nopa
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Which character and which insanity condition?

Some characters are prone to going insane due to low will and low sanity. So in that way, there's randomness. On top of that, there's the randomness of the tests with dice rolls, and randomness of the insanity conditions that get drawn, not to mention which monsters come out and when.

So...there are a lot of variables and that means it's kind of hard to reproduce that exact situation.

Also, you need to have actual fear and play around horror checks. Otherwise, what's the point?

I dunno. I feel like some of these things can be mitigated. It's usually a bad idea to base a whole decision on a single play through, but you're at the mercy of your play group...
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indy lim
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I think especially for this game the experience of the game for the group matters more than winning or losing. I'd even say losing spectacularly at the last minute because you're insane and doing your own thing fits better with the theme of the game as is potentially more fun. But yeah, often times its right at the end of the scenario when you finally go insane and its not possible to fulfill the new win condition. If the group wins the scenario, I still feel like I won even if I technically didn't.
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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House-rule that someone always starts with the King James Bible...

-shnar
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Scott Arnone
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I mean, in most Arkham games, going insane near the end is usually a sign the whole group is going to lose. So not sure it's really "unfair"--you essentially "died", but are given a continued role in the game rather than being eliminated. You're essentially a completely unpredictable monster added in. That is AWESOME. Sure, maybe you don't have a huge shot at winning, but it's still going to be fun losing, and much better than if you had just had to sit out the last few rounds.
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Johnny Li
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I can definitely understand how she feels. The Insanity conditions often seem to cheapen the overall experience. I mean, if someone got the card that allows them to immediately win if they're in the same space as another investigator with a bladed weapon, and they get the card really early on and wins before anyone has really figured anything out, it doesn't feel like a legitimate win. I do think this is the weakest part of the game and that all of the conditions should have been made to be more puzzle-y in trying to figure out how to still win with some extra conditions thrown on. At least, they probably should have made it so the conditions for winning apply to all investigators and gotten rid of the ones that make some players turn on the group (as thematic as that is, in this sort of co-op game, it's kind of souring and too Betrayal-like).
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reptile18 wrote:
I can definitely understand how she feels. The Insanity conditions often seem to cheapen the overall experience. I mean, if someone got the card that allows them to immediately win if they're in the same space as another investigator with a bladed weapon, and they get the card really early on and wins before anyone has really figured anything out, it doesn't feel like a legitimate win. I do think this is the weakest part of the game and that all of the conditions should have been made to be more puzzle-y in trying to figure out how to still win with some extra conditions thrown on. At least, they probably should have made it so the conditions for winning apply to all investigators and gotten rid of the ones that make some players turn on the group (as thematic as that is, in this sort of co-op game, it's kind of souring and too Betrayal-like).


Well, first, I would add that I'm more in the camp of "the experience matters more than winning/losing." Like other Arkham games, there is a lot of randomness and unforeseen circumstances. This isn't a coop game like Pandemic or Forbidden Island where winning is the goal and the odds are always calculable, letting you use statistics to come up with the best choices possible. Arkham games embrace chaos and unpredictability. That may not resonate with everyone, but it is what makes them unique and enjoyable for a lot of the fans, myself included.

I've found that Mansions is first and foremost a storytelling game and sometimes losing or going mad is just as interesting as finishing the scenario and creates lasting memories that you'll be retelling around the table for months and months.

Second, to address the particular situation of drawing the "bladed weapon" Insanity card; I'd agree that THAT particular card is more fun if the players already know it exists. My normal Mansions play group has played through this game many times, so we all know which Insanity cards are included. So the second someone goes Insane, the intensity of the game really heats up. People are immediately asking the insane person to drop their light sources and bladed weapons as a show of good faith. The Insane players are bluffing by not talking or trying to steal from people or going out of their way to find all the Search tokens. When everyone is in on which Insanity cards exist, the field is more even and really comes down to bluffing and trusting/not trusting your friends.

We've had some amazing moments with the Insanity cards and I feel like they add a lot of the Mansions experience. Without a betrayal mechanic adding another layer to the late-game, I feel like the game would be a little too straight forward.
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Danny Frahm
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BreadRising wrote:

Well, first, I would add that I'm more in the camp of "the experience matters more than winning/losing."


Agreed. Good story.
 
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Milan Mašát
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BreadRising wrote:
Well, first, I would add that I'm more in the camp of "the experience matters more than winning/losing."

This is why the concept of win/lose in this game gives me the bitter feel. I enjoyed the game, but I lost because of last turn insanity, all other players won.
What now? Should I cheer with them, because I enjoy the game till the next round? What is the point of "you lose" on some arbitrary card then?
Why to speak about winning/losing? I might suggest terms like - investigation is closed/ or not + you investigator fulfilled its destiny / or not.
IMHO no need to put concepts like win/lose into storytelling investigation game.
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MM
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Vodnyk wrote:
BreadRising wrote:
Well, first, I would add that I'm more in the camp of "the experience matters more than winning/losing."

This is why the concept of win/lose in this game gives me the bitter feel. I enjoyed the game, but I lost because of last turn insanity, all other players won.
What now? Should I cheer with them, because I enjoy the game till the next round? What is the point of "you lose" on some arbitrary card then?
Why to speak about winning/losing? I might suggest terms like - investigation is closed/ or not + you investigator fulfilled its destiny / or not.
IMHO no need to put concepts like win/lose into storytelling investigation game.


I have to agree. I'm not thrilled with the whole concept either. I mainly play this game with my wife or one other person, so my group is small and we enjoy the concept of winning/losing together.

I get that the insanity role play aspect can be fun for groups - especially groups more accustomed to this "Traitor" element. It just isn't for my group. I am thinking of making insanity just that, a condition with no secondary aspect. OR ... reworking the FFG cards to have new insanity conditions - more friendly to groups adverse to the traitor aspect (or alternate win conditions).

Unfortunately, I don't think I'm talented/skilled enough to create PrinterStudio cards from scratch, so I might have to come up with a random roll/consult a chart insanity method - probably much easier anyhow.

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Vodnyk wrote:
BreadRising wrote:
Well, first, I would add that I'm more in the camp of "the experience matters more than winning/losing."

This is why the concept of win/lose in this game gives me the bitter feel. I enjoyed the game, but I lost because of last turn insanity, all other players won.
What now? Should I cheer with them, because I enjoy the game till the next round? What is the point of "you lose" on some arbitrary card then?
Why to speak about winning/losing? I might suggest terms like - investigation is closed/ or not + you investigator fulfilled its destiny / or not.
IMHO no need to put concepts like win/lose into storytelling investigation game.


I guess I see "win" and "lose" as an alternate way of telling what everyone's fate is at the end of the game. If I'm a traitor that needs to set a bunch of fires and the rest of my group finishes the investigation, I see it as a short conclusion blurb from a horror story. "Rita Young and Preston Fairmont got away from the mansion safely, but Wendy Adams, struggling to cope with the horrors she found in that Mansion, is left behind, still trying to burn it all to the ground."

Again, it all comes back to that idea of the experience being more important than being able to say "I won!" or "I lost!"

So when you go insane and have an alternate win condition, don't see it as "I need to make all of my friends lose." See it as, I'm taking this story in a different and unforeseen direction. That's just my take.
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Chris Poor
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I agree with the concept that, for this game, the story is more important than winning/losing, and if you REALLY must win, it may not be the game for you. Reading Lovecraft, MOST games should end with everyone going insane.

Additionally, I expect a coop game to win about 50% of the time when I start to play, then as I gain skill, my win % goes up, and an expansion adds to the difficulty, rinse and repeat and FFG makes money selling expansions.

Good example (From my POV) of an 'appropriate' loss, without spoilers; last night's game, I was Monterey Jack in the first scenario, with 5 players. Jack was the combat leader, wading in and using his special ability (other investigators in his space do not need to roll Evade checks against monsters) to allow the others to move through monsters to get to the objective. I was role-playing it a bit, on my turn moving into spaces with monsters on our path and saying, "OK, I'll keep these gibrones busy, the rest of you move on to the X!"

As things got tight, there were more and more monsters showing up, and Jack started adding, "Don't stay behind for me! Just keep going!" and such encouragments.

Near the end of the scenario, the monsters had taken their toll, and Jack went insane, and the insanity I drew actually fitted well with how I had been playing him. (No spoilers here, but if you have seen it, you know which one) All I had to do was add a bit of maniacal laughter, and keep yelling for them to not worry about me, just leave me behind and get out! You have to save the world!

In the end, I lost, but everyone else won, and I was very satisfied that Jack's story was a good one.

Rather than a 'win/lose' game, I view this as a quick and easy RPG. And anyone who has played Lovecraftian RPGs should expect to go insane, and plan accordingly. Sometimes the insanity, and how you play it, can be what makes the game memorable. I think that the insanity system in this game was designed with this idea in mind. Embrace your insanity, and make it work for you (to make the game fun).

Even if you get an insanity that may make the game 'less fun' for the others on first look, I think that the thing to do is to be creative with it, and rather than go fangs out to win the game, look for a way to make it work for everyone's entertainment and enjoyment (that, ultimately, is why I play games, winning is fun, but if it ruins friendships I'm going to go for a fun evening with friends over a victory that sours them.)

JMO
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Justin Colm
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There's an obvious dichotomy here of 'the game should be about the story and the experience rather than winning or losing' and I agree with that... but then there is a mechanic in the game that can, for certain players, suddenly make it not about the story at all, but some arbitrary win / lose condition... suddenly the game goes from being about the mystery at hand, the story, to being just about performing spurious tasks to 'win' the game. The Insanity conditions make the game all about winning / losing when it should really be about the narrative.

It's all well and good to say the game is about 'random chaos' and claim that represents the Mythos... but actually it really doesn't. I have read the entire canon of Lovecraft's work and in none of his stories does the story randomly change its focus and become something else or go off at random tangents. None of them are arbitrary. They all have a focus, a clear concept and a narrative that builds from the start to the finish. I think doing that better replicates the theme and atmosphere of Lovecraft's work than throwing random spanners into the story. As for characters going insane in the work of Lovecraft, they are typically left insane in the aftermath of the story, after the narrative has fully played out to its satisfying conclusion. Never have I read one his stories that's suddenly trailed off and disregarded the gradually building story and become instead about the central character developing a compulsive need to pick up litter around Arkham.

To me, if the focus of the game isn't 100% on the investigation and the progression of the story then something is wrong in the design... that something being the insanity conditions. If players become focused or invested in 'winning conditions' rather than the story... that's unthematic. Sometimes simple is best and throwing game-changing mechanical spanners into the works doesn't necessarily improve the experience.

The solution is pretty obvious: ignore the Insanity conditions. For sure it's not the most satisfying one as it does eliminate a lot of the tension that should exist around getting them... but honestly it's better than ending up with a group of unsatisfied players who feel like they invested 2 - 3 hours into a story with no pay-off or 2 - hours of teamwork and strategy that was rendered moot by an arbitrary card draw. Some people like to actually finish what they start.




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Sam Bookler
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It's a good point and I do understand that, for some, the role-playing aspect is satisfying and so the game isn't about winning or losing. Our group does like to play coops to 'win' together.

Take this with a grain of salt, as we haven't read all of the insanity cards (prefer to preserve the surprise) so I'm not sure if we'll be able to apply it across the board. We decided to go ahead and use the variant I suggested in which an insanity condition compels you to pursue any new insane goal. This may only happen rarely, but we also decided that if you satisfy your insanity goal and would 'win', instead you are no longer insane (your compulsion is removed) and you can cooperate with the group normally again.
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I'm also having this experience of the insanity mechanic feeling unfulfilling. Last night I "won" because my insanity condition required the investigation to lose. I threw myself into a hoard of enemies, used an Axe unnecessarily to drain my Sanity, got eliminated in 2 turns, and won the game for myself after another turn passed. The group really had no recourse.

First it was unfulfilling because I suddenly had to learn a bunch of new rules for pushing/stealing/etc. I tried pushing at first but failed. I then had the idea to kill myself amd end the game that way, so I made sure I wouldn't lose the game by killing myself (my reading was that the rules say eliminations mean you lose the game unless an effect specifies otherwise, and my insanity card seemed to specify otherwise). Then I had to "argue" with the other players over when I could take my turn, and we decided to use a die roll to pick who gets to make decisions, such as where a fire should spread. This is in the rules summary but it's annoyingly buried. With a d8 and 4 players, we went with my decision on a blank space (2/8 chance) and the group's on any other result (6/8 chance). Overall, things were suddenly getting real fiddly toward the end of the game, right when people were getting fatigued by a long game.

Quick fix idea: when going insane, draw three cards instead of one, and pick the one you like best. Redraw as normally for each invalid card if you have a low player count.

(This lowers the chance of getting unwinnable conditions, and sometimes gives the option to avoid traitor games if the player doesn't want to do it.)

There also needs to be an insanity hand-out so players know exactly what to do without having to stop everyone and analyze the rulebook.

 
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Jacek Deimer
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Veggiesama wrote:
I'm also having this experience of the insanity mechanic feeling unfulfilling. Last night I "won" because my insanity condition required the investigation to lose. I threw myself into a hoard of enemies, used an Axe unnecessarily to drain my Sanity, got eliminated in 2 turns, and won the game for myself after another turn passed. The group really had no recourse.

First it was unfulfilling because I suddenly had to learn a bunch of new rules for pushing/stealing/etc. I tried pushing at first but failed. I then had the idea to kill myself amd end the game that way, so I made sure I wouldn't lose the game by killing myself (my reading was that the rules say eliminations mean you lose the game unless an effect specifies otherwise, and my insanity card seemed to specify otherwise). Then I had to "argue" with the other players over when I could take my turn, and we decided to use a die roll to pick who gets to make decisions, such as where a fire should spread. This is in the rules summary but it's annoyingly buried. With a d8 and 4 players, we went with my decision on a blank space (2/8 chance) and the group's on any other result (6/8 chance). Overall, things were suddenly getting real fiddly toward the end of the game, right when people were getting fatigued by a long game.

Quick fix idea: when going insane, draw three cards instead of one, and pick the one you like best. Redraw as normally for each invalid card if you have a low player count.

(This lowers the chance of getting unwinnable conditions, and sometimes gives the option to avoid traitor games if the player doesn't want to do it.)

There also needs to be an insanity hand-out so players know exactly what to do without having to stop everyone and analyze the rulebook.



I am not sure if you win. In this situation I believe that you have to be alive at the end of game to fulfill the condition of winning.

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Reid666 wrote:
Veggiesama wrote:
I'm also having this experience of the insanity mechanic feeling unfulfilling. Last night I "won" because my insanity condition required the investigation to lose. I threw myself into a hoard of enemies, used an Axe unnecessarily to drain my Sanity, got eliminated in 2 turns, and won the game for myself after another turn passed. The group really had no recourse.

First it was unfulfilling because I suddenly had to learn a bunch of new rules for pushing/stealing/etc. I tried pushing at first but failed. I then had the idea to kill myself amd end the game that way, so I made sure I wouldn't lose the game by killing myself (my reading was that the rules say eliminations mean you lose the game unless an effect specifies otherwise, and my insanity card seemed to specify otherwise). Then I had to "argue" with the other players over when I could take my turn, and we decided to use a die roll to pick who gets to make decisions, such as where a fire should spread. This is in the rules summary but it's annoyingly buried. With a d8 and 4 players, we went with my decision on a blank space (2/8 chance) and the group's on any other result (6/8 chance). Overall, things were suddenly getting real fiddly toward the end of the game, right when people were getting fatigued by a long game.

Quick fix idea: when going insane, draw three cards instead of one, and pick the one you like best. Redraw as normally for each invalid card if you have a low player count.

(This lowers the chance of getting unwinnable conditions, and sometimes gives the option to avoid traitor games if the player doesn't want to do it.)

There also needs to be an insanity hand-out so players know exactly what to do without having to stop everyone and analyze the rulebook.



I am not sure if you win. In this situation I believe that you have to be alive at the end of game to fulfill the condition of winning.


The Golden Rules
* Effects of components, such as cards or the app, sometimes contradict rules found in this reference. In such a case, the component's effect takes precedence.

Winning & Losing
* When an investigator is eliminated, the game ends at the end of the next investigator phase. At the end of that investigator phase, if the investigation is not complete... Investigators lose the game.
* Some game effects--primarily Insane Conditions--can change how an investigator wins or loses the game. Such an effect will clearly state how the investigator wins or loses the game.

Eliminated
* An eliminated investigator does not win the game when the investigation is complete unless an effect states otherwise.

Crisis of Confidence
* You do not win the game as normal. Instead, at the end of the game, you win if the investigation is not complete. Otherwise, you lose the game.

First, I do love how it says "SUCH AN EFFECT WILL CLEARLY STATE HOW THE INVESTIGATOR WINS OR LOSES THE GAME" when it's far from clear based on the card text.

Regardless, my read is this: eliminations cause the game to prematurely end next turn. At that point, check if the investigation is complete. If it is, players win. Otherwise, players lose.

However, Crisis of Confidence reverses the normal rules and gives a win to the player in a failed investigation and a loss to the player in a successful investigation. My read is that this effect overrides the elimination rules, because it is an effect that states otherwise how winning/losing works. The Golden Rule says the specific component rule trumps the general elimination rule.

As far as "the intention of the rules" goes, a Crisis of Confidence often leads to suicide attempts, and suicide against insurmountable odds is typically Lovecraftian. I don't see a conflict.

Unfortunately, throwing yourself at the enemy is probably the easiest and most direct way to lose the investigation. If that's not the intention of the card, then it should have been worded better.

Anyway, some errata needs to clarify this issue. A sentence on the component card itself could clear everything up, like this: "If you are eliminated, you cannot win the game."
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Chris J Davis
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supraking777 wrote:
Is a potential variant to always have the insane players win with the rest, but force them to spend their actions pursuing whatever insane agenda they have, rather than continue to cooperate normally?


How would you ever enforce that? And what decisions does the player then have from that point on?
 
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Guy H
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I haven't tried it yet, but you could always borrow a rule from the Call of Cthulhu RPG, where you regain sanity (or in this case discard cards) by defeating monsters?
 
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Eric Matthews
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In what way is usually not being able to win after becoming insane unbalanced?

I just feel like this thread has an assumption that this game is supposed to be easier than other coops which also often have situations where players can find themselves in unwinnable sessions, sometimes due to an unlucky shuffle of cards.

If anything the theme in this game gives me the impression that the an occasional (maybe even more often than occasional) unfair scenario is expected.

(I haven't played the new version yet)
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Jacek Deimer
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Veggiesama wrote:
Reid666 wrote:
Veggiesama wrote:
I'm also having this experience of the insanity mechanic feeling unfulfilling. Last night I "won" because my insanity condition required the investigation to lose. I threw myself into a hoard of enemies, used an Axe unnecessarily to drain my Sanity, got eliminated in 2 turns, and won the game for myself after another turn passed. The group really had no recourse.

First it was unfulfilling because I suddenly had to learn a bunch of new rules for pushing/stealing/etc. I tried pushing at first but failed. I then had the idea to kill myself amd end the game that way, so I made sure I wouldn't lose the game by killing myself (my reading was that the rules say eliminations mean you lose the game unless an effect specifies otherwise, and my insanity card seemed to specify otherwise). Then I had to "argue" with the other players over when I could take my turn, and we decided to use a die roll to pick who gets to make decisions, such as where a fire should spread. This is in the rules summary but it's annoyingly buried. With a d8 and 4 players, we went with my decision on a blank space (2/8 chance) and the group's on any other result (6/8 chance). Overall, things were suddenly getting real fiddly toward the end of the game, right when people were getting fatigued by a long game.

Quick fix idea: when going insane, draw three cards instead of one, and pick the one you like best. Redraw as normally for each invalid card if you have a low player count.

(This lowers the chance of getting unwinnable conditions, and sometimes gives the option to avoid traitor games if the player doesn't want to do it.)

There also needs to be an insanity hand-out so players know exactly what to do without having to stop everyone and analyze the rulebook.



I am not sure if you win. In this situation I believe that you have to be alive at the end of game to fulfill the condition of winning.


The Golden Rules
* Effects of components, such as cards or the app, sometimes contradict rules found in this reference. In such a case, the component's effect takes precedence.

Winning & Losing
* When an investigator is eliminated, the game ends at the end of the next investigator phase. At the end of that investigator phase, if the investigation is not complete... Investigators lose the game.
* Some game effects--primarily Insane Conditions--can change how an investigator wins or loses the game. Such an effect will clearly state how the investigator wins or loses the game.

Eliminated
* An eliminated investigator does not win the game when the investigation is complete unless an effect states otherwise.

Crisis of Confidence
* You do not win the game as normal. Instead, at the end of the game, you win if the investigation is not complete. Otherwise, you lose the game.

First, I do love how it says "SUCH AN EFFECT WILL CLEARLY STATE HOW THE INVESTIGATOR WINS OR LOSES THE GAME" when it's far from clear based on the card text.

Regardless, my read is this: eliminations cause the game to prematurely end next turn. At that point, check if the investigation is complete. If it is, players win. Otherwise, players lose.

However, Crisis of Confidence reverses the normal rules and gives a win to the player in a failed investigation and a loss to the player in a successful investigation. My read is that this effect overrides the elimination rules, because it is an effect that states otherwise how winning/losing works. The Golden Rule says the specific component rule trumps the general elimination rule.

As far as "the intention of the rules" goes, a Crisis of Confidence often leads to suicide attempts, and suicide against insurmountable odds is typically Lovecraftian. I don't see a conflict.

Unfortunately, throwing yourself at the enemy is probably the easiest and most direct way to lose the investigation. If that's not the intention of the card, then it should have been worded better.

Anyway, some errata needs to clarify this issue. A sentence on the component card itself could clear everything up, like this: "If you are eliminated, you cannot win the game."


I agree that it requires further clarification. Interpreting rules exacly like written allows you win when you are eliminated when having "Obsessive ", "Selfish Motives" and "Misery Loves Company". They all state that "You do not win the game as normal." And I am sure that is not an card intention.
 
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